PANAMANIACS: The Panamanian delegation's party Tuesday night broke a gentleman's agreement among cities lobbying for the Free Trade Area of the Americas headquarters, said Jorge Arrizurieta, lead promoter for Miami's efforts. The executive director of Florida FTAA Inc. said all of the other cities competing for the secretariat were holding off on extravaganzas to win endorsements. Members of the Panamanian Council, promoting its nation's bid, were spotted handing out invitations during the Americas Business Forum on Monday and Tuesday for their soiree at JW Marriott Hotel.
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ANOTHER TRACK: Against the backdrop of Free Trade Area of the Americas meetings, talks on a free-trade agreement between the US and five Central American countries will also be taking place. While in Miami for the FTAA ministerial meetings, US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick plans to meet with officials from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua in an effort to finalize the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement. He said this round of talks should "add momentum" to FTAA talks going on this week. The final round is scheduled for Dec. 8.
CIVIL THOUGHTS: Members of civil society organizations made suggestions Monday for trade ministers to consider when negotiating the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement this week. One is to create a registry for all government contracts in the 34 countries where everyone registered is invited to bid and can learn who got what contracts for how much. Another is to include affected civil society groups in implementing regulations that come out of the agreement's negotiation process.
LABOR RALLIES: Labor union leaders are in Miami this week to make sure workers' voices are heard by the 34 trade representatives at the Free Trade Area of the Americas ministerial meetings. American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations President John Sweeney was to discuss the FTAA with workers Wednesday afternoon at Gusman Theater. United Steel Workers of America President Leo Gerard and other labor leaders were to speak Wednesday evening at Bayfront Amphitheater. There will be a rally at 10 a.m. today (11/20) at Bayfront led by United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger followed by a march.
ON THE LOOKOUT: Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess spent Tuesday with the county's police department making sure events ran smoothly as police braced for protesters later in the week. When spotted at the high-security Hyatt Regency Hotel, where the Americas Business Forum was taking place, he said he was exhausted but having a good day.
PRICES RISE 2.6%: Miami-Fort Lauderdale's consumer prices rose 2.6% in the year ending Oct. 31, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Commerce reported Tuesday. Nationally, the increase was 2% for the period. But South Florida's overall index of 181.6 - the $181.60 cost of goods and services that would have cost $100 two decades earlier - was well below the national level of $185 for the same items.
FIU PICKS CHINA SITE: Florida International University's new hospitality-management school in China's Tianjin province will be a statement high-rise, probably 12 stories, on 80 acres across from new botanical gardens, said Joseph West, dean of the FIU hospitality school, who returned last week from meetings in China. He said he expects to return there in January to meet on requirements for the building, which is to include public space, classrooms, labs, dormitories on upper floors and restaurants on the top floor. FIU is to run the campus under the FIU name in the seacoast city outside of Beijing for the Tianjin University of Commerce.
AND A LAKESIDE SITE: Florida International University took another important step this week as well, as ground was broken Sunday afternoon for the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at the University Park Campus. The 40,000-square-foot, $12 million museum will rise on a lakeside site where, under a large tent, the Frosts and others paid tribute to the tenacity of Dahlia Morgan, the museum director, who for more than two decades worked to get a large freestanding museum built on campus.
MASTEC ADDS: Sherrill Hudson, who retired from Deloitte & Touche last year after 19 years as managing partner for South Florida, has joined the board of MasTec Inc., a Miami-based builder of networks for telecommunications, broadband and energy companies.
PAPER WINS AWARD: Columns in Miami Today have won first place for commentary writing in the annual competition of the Florida Press Club. The three columns, by Editor Michael Lewis, questioned a $1.2 million incentive payment to Carnival Cruise Lines to move jobs across a county line, decried browbeating of civic volunteers in public arenas and questioned the lowering of standards on a state academic achievement test.
TRADE FLIGHTS: FedEx was recognized last week at the Florida International Trade Awards for increasing the state's role in international trade. FedEx's Latin American and Caribbean headquarters are based in Miami with 14 daily flights out of Miami International Airport and 2,000 employees in South Florida. The awards were sponsored by the Florida Council of International Development, which works to increase Florida's role in international business.
BURGER PEOPLE: Burger King has named Miamian Peter C. Smith chief human resources officer, reporting directly to CEO Brad Blum, the corporation announced Tuesday. He had been with AutoNation in Fort Lauderdale.
NEW ARTS DIRECTORS: Two new members will join the board of the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami Trust, which will run the $355 million center when it opens. Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas has appointed Roger Carlton, and the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners last week appointed West Miami Mayor Velia Yedra.
TICKET AVAILABILITY: It may become cheaper, faster and easier to get tickets to your favorite performance once the Performing Arts Center of Greater Miami is open and running, said Michael Hardy, president of the center's trust. Officials are looking at several online ticketing systems through which consumers could go through one Web site to get tickets for many center performances.
ROME IN MIAMI: Gwyn Davies, a visiting professor of ancient history at FIU and a specialist in Roman military matters, is to speak at 7 p.m. Friday at the Wolfsonian Museum, 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Ms. Davies, co-director of the Yotvata Archaeological Project, an ongoing excavation of a late Roman fort in southern Israel, will release a book, "Roman Siege Works," next year. Caesar's invasion of Italy in 49 BC is Friday's topic at the Wolfsonian. Cost is $10. Details: (305) 773-8408.
BOUTIQUE BOOM: Miami-based Tecton Hospitality has new agreements with two hotels on Miami Beach, said Richard Millard, Tecton president & CEO. He said his firm signed management contracts with the 50-room Aqua Hotel & Lounge, 1530 Collins Ave., and Circa39, an 86-room hotel to open in January at 3900 Collins Ave. Aqua, built in 1953, reopened in December 2000 following restoration. Circa39 was built in 1939 as the Copley Plaza. The new properties, Mr. Millard said, bring to six the number of boutique hotels his company manages in Florida and Puerto Rico, part of a larger portfolio of more than 20 properties. The new properties mark the first expansion of the firm's portfolio since it merged with R&S Investment Co. last month. R&S principals include George Ruff, senior principal of Trinity Hotel Investors of New York, and Pete Sibley, formerly a president with Carnival Hotels & Casinos. Details: (305) 577-8484 or tectonhospitality.com.
PARKS HELP PARKS: Miami city commissioners will get $500,000 for parks in their districts from the Bayfront Park Management Trust. The trust's board, which oversees Bayfront and Bicentennial parks, gave the one-time grant for the five commissioners to divide equally for park needs.